The Importance of Continuous Pond Pump Operation: Nighttime Benefits

If your pond has fish, then the simple answer is you should not turn your pond pump off at night. However, non-essential pumps can be turned off to reduce noise at night and save money on your electric bill.

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Can I turn my Pond Pump off at Night?

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The rising electricity costs are pushing all households across the UK to look at reducing their costs, and it’s not too long before they ask “Should I turn my pond pump off at night to save electricity?”

Water flow can be reduced at night times (using a variable speed pond pump) to not only reduce your electricity bill but to reduce the amount of noise generated from your pond water feature.

When making any decisions about your pond you must always put your fish first, I have seen many pond owners who started to make drastic changes to their pond ecosystem only to fully regret their decisions once the water quality reduced.

Poor pond water quality is the number 1 reason why fish start to gasp for air, contract diseases or even die. Is turning off your pond water to save a few pounds a month really worth the risk?

In this article, I go over some ways to reduce your pond running costs at night, and what you “could” turn off if you want to save on your electricity bills.

The Effects of Turning your Pond Pump off at Night

photo of a pond which is overrun with green blanket weed

The purpose of a pond pump is to continuously cycle your pond water through filter media, so turning it completely off overnight could cause your pond water to become stagnant/dirty for several hours before being cleared when the pump is turned on again – who wants to look at a dirty pond?

Pond Pumps continuously cycle your pond water through filtration media removing harmful nitrates, dirt and any other debris. Turning your pond pump off at night will not only stop water circulation, but will cause water stored in your filters to become stagnant, smelly, and filled with harmful Nitrates that will eventually be pumped back into your pond when you switch the pump on again in the morning.

Pond pumps are designed to run continuously, this ensures that the small holes surrounding your pump (the pump cage) do not get blocked with thick layers of silt/algae. Turning your pond pump off at night will cause your pump cage to become encapsulated in the thick dirt/sludge and is much more likely to clog up the impeller preventing efficient water flow.

What pumps can I turn off at night to save electricity?

photo of a garden pond at night with garden lights

If you have a water feature separate from your filtration system, there is no harm in turning the fountain pond pump off overnight to reduce your energy bills and noise.  Many pond owners have even added a small solar water fountain that will only work when it’s sunny, reducing your energy costs even further.

Water fountains are generally fed directly from your pond pump and “usually” do not go through any filtration media. You could turn your water fountain pump off at night providing you still have a pond pump circulating the water through filter media.

Oxygenating air pumps can be switched off at night to save costs providing your other pond pump is creating enough “splashes” to break the surface tension of the water allowing fresh oxygen to permeate.

If you do plan on turning your oxygenating pond pump off at night, its worth considering fish waste and silt will ultimately start to block the tiny holes in your air stone/air ring which will require more maintenance on your pond.

During the summer months, or if the UK is experiencing another heatwave, I would not suggest turning your oxygenating air pond pump off at night. Hot weather reduces the amount of oxygen in your water, so anything that adds more oxygen will benefit your fish and other aquatic pond life.

How should I turn my pond pump off at night?

As mentioned earlier turning your pond filter pump off at night should not be done, however, if you have other pond pumps (fountain/water feature/oxygen air pump) you can safely turn these off during the evenings without any problems with your fish and pond plants.

photo of an electric plug timer in front of a garden pond

Many pond owners will have their ponds wired up using an external switching box, which is either in an “On / Off” position. I love automation, so anything that will turn the pond features off that I do not require at night will be beneficial.

  1. The first step in automating the process would be to purchase a water-tight outdoor box that will fit an extension cable and socket. I am using one purchased from Amazon which actually comes with the extension cable. I removed the plug from my extension cable and wired that into my outdoor pond switch.
  2. I disconnected my water fountain pump from the pond outdoor switch and added a standard 3-pin UK plug to the end of the cable.
  3. I fed my new water fountain pump cable into the external waterproof box and added a cheap economical timer (you know, the ones we used to turn on sidelights whilst on holiday).
  4. I set the timer to turn the feature pump off at 11 pm, and back on at 6 pm saving me 7 hours' worth of electric costs without any damaging effect to my pond or fish.

Repeat the above for each of the pumps you want to switch off at programmable times.

Will reducing the water flow to my pond pump reduce my electric costs?

photo of somebody holding an electricity bill in front of their garden pond

Reducing the water flow of your pond pump can be achieved either by turning the pump speed down or by using a water flow regulator to your pond pipes and may be a viable alternative to turning your pond pump off at night. Adding a water flow regulator to your existing pond pipe would not reduce the operating pump costs, in fact, it would be the same and could potentially cause damage to your existing pond pump because of the water flow restriction.

If your pond pump supports a variable flow option, then turning the flow down will reduce the speed of your pond pump thus reducing your electric bill. Variable flow pond pumps are rather expensive compared to your “run of the mill” pond pumps available – however, the long-term benefits certainly outweigh the short-term costs.

It is worth mentioning that even if you decide to use a variable flow pond pump, you will still need to visit your pond in the evenings to reduce the speed – which is absolutely fine during the summer months, but when it’s cold, wet and sometimes snowing, I don’t really fancy getting my slippers wet just to save a few pounds per month.

Final thoughts

The simple rule is, to only turn off pond pumps that are not required for the safety and well-being of your fish. Always check the temperature in your area to make sure you’re not going to harm any pond fish by removing water flow/oxygen from your pond.

I personally only turn off my water fountain at night, I never really considered the electric cost savings, but I did so to reduce the noise my fountain generates when everybody should be tucked up in bed fast asleep.